A new report from the Engaging News Project did a large survey about news comment sections on 20 news websites. The report is written by Talia Stroud, Emily Van Duyn, Alexis Alizor and Cameron Lang of the University of Texas at Austin.
The survey seeked to find out what people think about news comment sections and how they use them. Questions inluded topics such as do people want journalists to interact in comment sections, do commenters feel connected to other commenters and on which types of stories people comment.
Results were quite consistent across different news websites. Audiences want journalists to clarify factual questions and experts to respond to comments. Only few respondents feel connected to other commenters.
Respondents comment more frequently on large sites (more than 50% comment on the site), and less on other sites. People are not always aware of the possiblity to report offensive comments, although it was possible on all sites used in the study. Perceptions about the civility of comment sections vary widely by site.
The report “Comment Section Survey Across 20 News Sites” is freely available on the project’s website.
Picture: Untitled by janeb13, license CC0